Truth, lies, and campaign speeches

Two separate comments from politicians and/or experts today raise an interesting question: Should you hold politicians accountable for what they say, if they say it at a campaign speech?

Appearing on CBS’ Early Show today, Sen. John McCain was asked about a 2008 campaign speech in which he said of Mitt Romney, “never get into a wrestling match with a pig.” Now, McCain is endorsing Romney.

“Did you not mean that four years ago or do you not mean it now?” the anchor asked.

“Primaries are tough,” McCain said, not answering the question, but certainly inviting the conclusion that you can’t take what a candidate says seriously on the campaign trail.

Meanwhile, PolitiFact reports today (h/t: Tom Scheck) that a spokesman for Ron Paul had a somewhat similar reaction when asked about an untrue statement the candidate delivered to a rally.

“Relax, dude, it was a rally speech to supporters, not a major policy speech or a debate,” he said.